Saturday, August 28, 2010

some more cast additions...

Katie Johnston as Rose Kubelick

Katie wow'd me in her contrasting monologue submission videos for "Things" effortlessly doing comedic and dramatic, sometimes combing a dab of each, and at callbacks I was equally floored by her passion, strong character intuition, ability to take direction and delightful personality. I'm eager to work with her on this and my other developing project, her portrayal of "Rose" will be about giving depth to an event and character that pretty much shapes Violet's entire life journey and questioning persona. 

Vanessa Altshuler as Brigitte the trainee

"Oldschool" (the English translation of her Deutsch last name) is a diamond in the rough for any director, a uniquely funny and energetic talent with a lot of emotional range, vocally trained with a killer set of pipes and theatre experience, Vanessa can blend in to several supporting and character parts, infusing them with a life that would immediately call for a spotlight.. forget scene-stealer, this girl has the potential to be a movie stealer. Her improvisational abilities and comedic timing are sharp and with giant "boo-hoo'ish" eyes she will draw you in and level you down. Cast her. And mention my name... I get like twenty bucks. Every penny counts, folks.

Hannah Reimann as Baby, "the devil"

Hannah is one of those great artists from past times, especially in the vein of those who came about during the frenetic & kinetic late-70's and early 80's downtown scene, who truly exemplify the term artists. She has her hands in several forms of artistic expression from filmmaking to music to acting to performance and fine arts, effortlessly and confidently jumping genres and styles to gain the highest experience and best production of work. A soul who uses her work as part of her continuing quest and journey to understand and push the boundaries of questions and ideas. Her dedication and work ethic is second to none and anyone lucky enough to collaborate with her in whatever piece she is involved in will be better off for it.

Tracy Toth
Tracy is a delightful and versatile actress I was introduced to last Summer who's credits are growing on stage and screen (you can see in several comedic Onion TV shorts and this season "It's Always Sunny In Philadealphia"). She's a strong addition to a great talented group of individuals and I'm thrilled to have a chance to collaborate on this project with her.

Amy Hoerler
I'm very excited to once again be including the always great Amy Hoerler. I met Amy in the back of a van in March 2004... No, no. Get your minds out of the gutter. I was helping out on a student short film where Amy played a 12 year old fairly convincingly (yeah, she's that solid) who was abused by her raging, aggresisve and alcoholic mother. We got to bond fast as sitting the trunk of the van I had to apply on a daily basis some pretty brutal bruises and bumps and of course that would turn into laughs and stories. I always promised I'd include her in a feature if I ever did one and was able to when I made "...Around", though sadly some of her best stuff hit the cutting room floor. I'm happy to include her in this project and keep the family tradition alive for other future project as well... cast her, you won't regret it. Just look below...

Who's shooting this movie and some more casting...

This has been a bit of a crazy week, and I'm working on a post to delve a bit more on the production, some technical stuff and also about the recent writing/additions to the story and that whole process... For right now, let me introduce you to who's going to be shooting our little baby this Winter...

::drum roll::

I met Gus Sacks after viewing his reel in June for coffee. He pleaded his case and his thoughts on the script, we talked about going to SVA and other film people we knew in common--he shot a short film "Charlie On Parole" that starred our lead actress Molly Ryman and actor TJ Miller("Cloverfield", "She's Out Of My League") and had similar professors. Gus is a young one but has a natural and raw talent and ambition, an eagerness and ability to learn and try and hungrily sharpen his skills, a knowledge of tech and trouble shooting, aesthetic goals and the ability to serve a director as well as push them towards new ideas, a straight-forward, easy going and no-bullshit attitude... Oh, yeah! And he also loves the shit out of hockey which is probably the clincher. Gus has a great eye and for his younger age already has 20 professional cinematography credits under his built amassed in the last couple of years. I'm looking forward to opening up my visual palette with him to bring "Things" to life and build a new collaborative relationship that I can hopefully spread out amongst future projects. But hey, don't take my word for it... check out his site/reel at

Also here's a few more additions to the "family" and cast for TIDU that I'm extremely excited to be working with. Two familiar faces from "...Around" and one who, while I've never had the pleasure of working with, is a long-time friend and mentor... 

               Nabil Vinas as Joe

I've known Nabil for a few years now through some mutual actor friends and I've had the pleasure of watching his work both on-screen and on-stage. Nabil;s acting abilities are sharp as a razor, blending and committing to whatever role or line of dialogue he's asked to recite. He's also got an encyclopedic of hip-hop music, new and old, that can eat up an entire day of conversation and poor attempts (on my behalf) of rapping and beat-boxing. I had the pleasure of working with him for two days in a small role on "...Around" which was anything but small in how he played it, bringing depth and 3D to what could have been a throwaway, antagonist-thug character. I wrote the role of "Joe", the orderly at the hospice, with him mind always and am excited about letting him build a full character who's learned through pain and past experiences and finds peace and fulfillment in a place most see loss and misery.

         David Boyd as Stefan 

Where can I even begin with Mr. Boyd? I met David in the Fall of 2002 when I cast him for a short film I was doing my sophomore year about a business man who's caught cheating on his wife because of the 9/11 tragedy. It was a quick-paced, darkly-comic, true-life inspired piece that was like nothing I'd ever tried before and the majority of it's success depended on David's ability to carry the role. He did it in spades, putting in real charm and heart that masked the cold, caculated and despicably abrasive traits of the character. I instantly became friends and cast him again in my Spring project, playing a less cruel but equally abrasive and outlandish character, upping the manic energy and allowing him to improvise. David moved out to Los Angeles and we kept in touch via email correspondence and after four years I was able to reunite with him for "...Around" when he played another asshole, the abusive boyfriend of Allyson (Molly Ryman) in a key scene. Once again he crushed it, but I felt bad that I was never able to show more range that Mr. Boyd is clearly capable of and for his role as "Stefan", Remy's much maligned and good intentioned professional lover, in "Things" I'm going to break out a side of him he's never had to the chance to show, light years away from anything I've done with him before. Dying to see him, regardless, crush it yet again...

                Lisa Eichhorn

Lisa and her vast, acclaimed body of work needs no introduction... but I'll do damndest at a proper one.  Lisa Eichhorn is a trained actor of the highest degree, an alumni of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1979" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 31. Lisa's early career was marked with acclaim and productions on stage, television and films such as "Yanks", opposite Richard Gere for director John Schlessinger which she was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and Merchant-Ivory's production of "The Europeans" that garnered her a BAFTA nomination. Her blistering portrayal of a wistful alcoholic opposite Jeff Bridges is a highlight of the cult classic "Cutter's Way". Lisa has worked with directors Roland Emmerich (Moon 44), Anthony Minghella (Talented Mr. Ripley) and has appeared on-stage in England (which I once had the pleasure to see personally) and in the US. In recent years Lisa has split her time by also teaching and mentoring actors and directors(I met her during my time as her pupil at SVA) and writing/producing ventures in Europe and the states. To have the opportunity to work with such a dear friend and teacher,who's class informed and inspired a lot of my philosophy towards working with actors and directing; and to collaborate with such a talented individual is not only an incredible endeavor, its slightly intimidating.  I look forward to including her in this film and the "family" and showing again what a skilled and passionate artist she is in front of the camera

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Things I Don't Understand" new family...

So, I've been away again... but not in slumber. 

Been busy toiling, writing and rewriting, casting, producing.... and this is how I will make up for it... with some cool news, pictures(!) and a gauntlet thrown down...


It will be shooting by January 24, 2011.... the date has some interesting meaning to me. It's my date of birth and the start of my 28th year traversing all over this earth... Call it tradition, but the first time I set a goal was on my 23rd birthday about shooting my first film a year later. I've usually kept to these crazy proclamations (maybe that's why I do it) so this will be no different... the film will be shooting by or just after that date... call it a present to myself.

I'll go into more on how the story has evolved over rewriting and casting this Summer in a different posting, but, in summary, meeting all the talented individuals who've given so much inspiration and creativity to a project that's been long gestating... I 've come to realize what the film is about. I mentioned once earlier that "...Around" was about finding home as only someone fresh out their teenage years and new to a city/adulthood can search, and now "Things" is about what happens when you find that home and it's threatened, what you do to maintain normalcy or a new phase of settling/growing up This movie is going to shoot if all goes according to plan in symmetry with the start of my 11th year in the city... I see it as new beginnings both personal and creatively, of putting rest old demons and issues (whilst finding new ones) and starting new chapters, new stories, new family, new home, and new goals...
But right now I mentioned something about a cast....

So, without further bullshitting, I'd like to introduce you to some of the new family...

Molly Ryman as "Violet Kubelick"
I met Molly Ryman for the first time at auditions for "...Around" back in January of 2007 (which she almost didn't go to; strange fate) and it wasn't until I reviewed the tape later that week that I first took notice of just what she had to offer as performer. Sometimes auditions can be weird, when you see actors back to back to back, your brain can play tricks on you and something about Molly was soft and subtle, it didn't register as loudly until I had a clear mind and watched her on the camera. Her passion for independent film, her love for New York City, and the gravitas she gave the character her line readings all made her the perfect It was a joy to work with her on my first film, her passion for being part of the project was contagious and helped boost everyone else on set up a notch, cast and crew. I knew instantly she was someone I'd love to work with again on anything. I was blessed to get to know her over the course of making the film and the last few years on a personal level and amazed to see level of genuineness and character she possesses both on and off screen. There is a passion  and meaning for everything she does and commits herself to 110%. As a performer Molly is blessed by a rare combo of strong presence and vulnerability, a depth and range that is only highlighted by her unique painfully beautiful features, reminiscent of old time movie stars. She has that same "it" quality that lights up a room, and while naturally sweet, giving and dedicated I knew even back then there was more to her than just "the girl next door" which she's been frequently cast as. Shit! Even I cast her as that in a way... but she also brought a slight tired and worn edge to the character of Allyson in "...Around". Some of her scenes were cut for timing and "Doyle" has the entire movie as a showcase for every lines and emotion under the sun, but the seeds of what she'd be capable of were in some of the reviews from those who paid attention and picked up on just how much subtle and supporting work Molly did in her scenes with Rob, at times "stealing" them. In the early winter of 2009 I started writing the first draft of "Things" from earlier story notes of a short involving a jaded grad student interviewing a girl dying in a hospice that would have been my original SVA Thesis film. As I wrote I saw more and more an opportunity to not only work with Molly again but to give her a chance to do something completely different if she was interested and as the script developed still right for the role/able to because of scheduling issues. The character of Violet Kubelick at her heart is someone is who is tired, broken, searching to the point of exhaustion, looking for reasons and holding on to excuses. There has to be heart, there has to be hope, there has to be soul and there is one artist I know who can infuse all of that into this character.  I'm happy to have the opportunity to work with her on this project in this way and be a part of that chance, and glad that timing and fates worked out to make it happen. I know Molly is going to surprise even those supporters who know how talented she is an actress and performer with this role, showing many layers and sides she's never gotten the chance to and carry this story and film.

Grace Folsom as "Sara Lowe"
Grace is one of those rare finds that magically happens during a casting when someone so young and talented steps up and magically takes you away. Her striking and original lovely features are a mask of a slow, simmering burn of emotion that she can call at will. Her simple audition video shot on a webcam and uploaded was a monologue that quickly detailed her talent for what I like to call "building" in a scene. Grace can take you on a ride from 0-1000 and you never see it coming, but by the time it hits you, you'll be doubled over, gasping for breath, eyes watered and full entranced. There's an old soul quality for someone so young which is he perfect balance for the terminally ill but full of spirit character of Sara, who's reflective mirror to Violet and her journey entails ever walking a line between the pure joy of living life and relentless agony of death and loss. She's gonna wow you... and she may get you addicted to certain flavors of Ben & Jerry's. I'm just saying....

Meissa Hampton as "Gabby Hunt"
I first became aware of Meissa's abilities through some amazing clips on her website including a particular one that stood out for me where lyrics of The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" were used as lines for a short/moody and artistic piece. Her ability to recite the classic lines in an almost perverse iambic pantameter and retain volumes of emotion that told an entire history of a relationship and it's dissolution showed true ability. I learned during a coffee meeting with her a history of studying literature and her respect for the written word on the page while still finding room to create and build  in-between the lines: any writer's dream performer. I also became privy to just how intelligent and funny an actress she is, equal bits sass and self-deprication, she possesses and ease and cool that manifests itself in even the most dramatic and painful of performances. Her creative and collaborative work in her co-starring performance in the feature film "Uptown" recently released further details her ability and willingness to delve deep into a character and story. I believe this mixture of depth, quirks, deadpan and sass will help craft a perfect and breathing Gabby who's self-doubt and anguish is thinly veiled by her outwardly hostile bluster, hyperbole and moxie.
Hugo Dillon as "Remy Cattison"
I received a Facebook message from Hugo early on during the casting process, having heard about my film and feeling he was perfect for the character. I hadn't even begun to look for a Remy as the role had originally been written for an actor I worked with on "...Around" and several other earlier shorts, Marcel Torres. Marcel is a gifted actor who's natural raw abilities were on display on most work he did, but wrote the role of Remy as something he could completely lose himself in without a trace of his actual self. Over the two years developing the project Marcel took the recent plunge to work on other projects and move to Los Angeles and so I was forced to find an actor... an actor to play a Keith Richards/Sid Vicious hybrid of a  spoiled, drug addled, bi-sexual, childlike, French punk rocker and son to diplomats.... great. Thus fate stepped in and brought me Hugo who's look was astoundingly like what I had envisioned for Remy. Currently residing in Paris, he sent me an audition tape of him playing guitar and a clip from a great short film he worked on that was all in French. An enthusiastic, spirited conversation over coffee and a couple of beers and I was ready to hire this talented actor who has years of experience on the stage and screen in France. The odd journey of the character of "Remy" into a sort of manhood or thinking of others before himself without being false of cliche'd is just one of the many burdens this talented actor has on his plate... I'm confident in his abilities to transforms himself into the role and also to get up on stage, own it and play some loud rawk music.
Eleanor Wilson as "Darla"
Eleanor is a gorgeous Australian actress with a flawless American accent and has the skill to channel oceans of emotion in the slightest movements of eyes and face, a hair flip or the simple dropping of a tone of her voice. She was one of the first actresses to send in an audition tape and I was quite surprised to see was interested in reading for Gabby and Darla.  I read her for both in person and then asked her to read for Sara. She pretty much was able to nail them all in a way had me thinking she had two twin sisters who also could act. She'd be the glue of any rep' that would have in her their company because I don't believe there is a role or part she could not play and make completely her own, infusing it with life and unique breath.  It was then I realized the potential for her to bring Darla to life as something more than comic relief, but as a genuinely happy, excited young girl in a giant city pursuing what she loves and living her life. She would in her genuine sweetness and purity embody the perfect foil to the burned out and darkly, cynical Violet. Eleanor is also quite painfully funny and dead-on, a true professional and amazing  all-around performer... if you don't believe go watch her reel at  ....... yeah, you done? You owe me 20 bucks? I don't take checks...

Lynn Justinger as "Zooey Winter"
Meeting Lynn I was instantly aware of a certain presence she has that has a bit of a classic movie star feel. She's the actress who back in the day was a Girl Friday or in a screwball comedy, tempering the line between strong and sensitive, force and resolve, heroine and damsel in distress. She has a sharp comedic timing and "instant like-ability factor"that would sell on any poster or serve any product that she was paid to hold it up and smile about, but also has potential and range that can be tapped and distorted into all forms of characters all the while retaining a sense of ease and familiarity. You, the audience, would be just as happy to follow her down a yellow bricked road into a sunset with a sweet, protective lover as she into the dark foreboding woods, being stalked with a iller. That's how comfortable her presence would make you. She's definitely an actress who's natural skills and charisma, sharpening over time and experiences, is someone you're going to see popping up a lot and I'm thrilled to have her join "Things" as Zooey who is a bit of a confused, fish out of water in the world of a dysfunctional yet loving family.Laura Malone as "Rebecca McNeil"
Laura is an actress I first corresponded with after she worked on a pilot with Molly during the promotion/festival phase of "...Around". Molly had mentioned what a talented and pleasure Laura was to work with and that I should look into her stuff. I received an email through our "...Around" website later that weekend with a lovely introduction and kept up correspondence. I was moved by her eagerness to be part of productions that had deeper meaning and stories that were rarely told, her hunger for collaborative independent projects that were pushing limits of storytelling. Having met her for tea early this Summer and chatted her up a bit in person, I then viewed clips of her work I'm amazed at how she transforms herself for characters. Laura's fearless talent for channeling voice and mannerisms, digging deep into the soul of the characters she embodies provides the perfect backdrop for the character of "Rebecca McNeil" who is a catalyst for more in the story and journey of the main characters then anyone can begin to realize. The character of Rebecca represents, much like the character of Sara, the all consuming beauty of life and the tragedy, open wounds of real loss. Her smile becomes both a light in the dark and a haunting image... take one look at Ms. Malone's and you can see another reason why she's perfect to be part of this project. 

Brian Ish as "Davis"
I've never worked with Brian before, but the man's reel and website is a testament to his range and ability to play different characters and invest an honesty and passion in them. His strong, dark features, Cheshire smile, willingness to dive into a character like "Davis" who in many ways is completely unlikable and aloof, relish every moment and beat, are all the Hallmarks of a talented and dedicated professional actor and a  boon to any project. Having worked on a short film  "Some Jobs Are Simple" with Molly a year ago, the two already have previous experience and chemistry they can turn on it's head for this project.

Jenna Laurenzo as Danielle "Daisy" Sloane    
I've always been something of a connoisseur of laughs and was completely taken in by Jenna's which, as one of more genuine and completely infectious I've encountered in a long time, is simply the cherry on top of a great combination of positive energy that can light up a room and acting abilities. After auditioning for the project she came to mind as I was doing revisions and fleshing out an additional character who'd musically narrate the story. Just before approaching her I received one of her many classic story emails detailing how much she craved to be/play a folk-singing musician and thus strange played a role. I'm extremely happy to have her talents and positive energy be a part of this and many other projects I'm developing and working on. Anyone would be lucky to have her and any of these unique actors involved in their project...

Coming up next time....  who's shooting the Goddamn flick, some thoughts on the story, and a blow by blow of the trials and tribulations of the hunt to attach name talent, more casting decisions, raising funds, business plans, breakdowns (budget, script and mental) and the long, arduous  but creatively fulfilling roller-coaster of a process of making an independent film in New York City... uh, again.